The first year of every marriage is a time of tremendous change and adjustment. It usually sets the tone and lays the foundations for the rest of your marriage. Depending on how each couple adjusts and how well you knew each other before you got married, your first year together could be wonderfully exhilarating, a continuum of your dating lifestyle, or an incredibly stressful period in your lives.

Here are the top challenges which most married couples find themselves dealing with in their first year of marriage. 

1. You Can’t Divide Everything In Half

Sure, we all know that marriage is an equal partnership, but what you may not realise until you settle into married life is that not everything can be divided into half. 

When you were still dating, it was possible to still split the bills or take turns when you went out, to make sure that you spend half the time at each other’s places, to agree take turns choosing which movies you would watch. However, married life is more complex. It might not be practical or ideal to take turns cooking dinner, or cleaning the house, or washing the car or throwing out the garbage. If one of you chooses to stay home for family reasons, or if one of you earns more money over time, it is not practical to split the family bills in half. There are a million reasons related to efficiency, personal likes and dislikes and the inability to really value intangibles such as the value of having one spouse stay home with the kids which make it impossible to split things in the middle.

Even beyond that, getting married means that you should merge your outlook, future prospects and sacrifices. If you keep a strict 50% dividing line on everything means that you aren’t doing this.  

So one of the key first things that will happen after you get married is figuring out the best way to work together and share both the rewards and sacrifices that your lives will bring. From an overall perspective, you should still be equal partners in each other’s lives, but on a detailed level, you shouldn’t be able to see a clear dividing line on everything which you do. 

2. Financial Attitudes Can Make Or Break Your Emotional Bank

Before you got married, you would each have had full control over your individual incomes and spending habits. But after you get married, even if you keep separate bank accounts and both work, the dynamics change. What you spend or don’t spend on has an impact on your shared future dreams. Do you want to own your home? How much debt are you comfortable with? How much will you save for retirement? Will you be able to continue to support your parents as much as before? Do you need 2 cars, 1 car or none? How much money will you spend on holidays? 

If you can’t agree on your income, spending and investment plans and if you have very different financial attitudes and priorities, you are likely to be in constant conflict and it will have a very negative impact on both of you emotionally and psychologically. Working through your financial priorities is important. If you have taken a marriage preparation course you would have started thinking through your priorities and having these discussions even before the wedding. Agree on a shared future lifestyle together and talk openly about what it means for you to reach those dreams together. If you can think of yourselves as a partnership and are willing to make adjustments in your lifestyles, you will be able to create a plan which both of you can be happy with. 

3. You Won’t Always Agree, But You Can Still Work Things Out

During the dating years, there is always the possibility of a break-up if things really don’t seem to work out. So, in some ways, you don’t have to agree and you don’t necessarily have to work things out. Marriage however, is a more permanent commitment, and if you have children together, it is a bond which even divorce cannot fully sever. In a marriage, being able to work things out and solve conflicts together is very important. 

But you don’t always have to agree to work things out. Perhaps your spouse is very committed to a particular charity or activity group for which you don’t have an interest in. But if you can understand their passion and you can accept that they will spend some time and some of their money on it, it can still work out. 

There are however, certain things which both of you will need to agree on. These are your values and your priorities in life. So focus on making sure that you agree on these first. Once those are in place, compromises on all the other parts of your lives can still happen without affecting the core of your relationship.

4. You Can’t Get Away from Family

When you get married, you marry into each other’s families. You will start to learn all sorts of strange quirks and customs and you will spend more time with your extended families. Over time, you will probably spend even more time together. First the arrival of your children will mean more visits as grandparents and grandkids will want to see each other and bond together. At a later stage in your lives, you will have to make decisions about caring and supporting your parents as they grow older. 

Whilst it is ideal for a young couple to have some space together in the initial years of marriage to establish roles and patterns of marriage, it is also true that you will need to understand and accept that your marriage will not only be about the two of you always. 

5. Have that Baby Talk!

Along with marriage will come the question of “family”. More specifically, it will be a question about your family; the one which you will have together. Have that discussion early in your marriage, or even during your marriage preparation course. Do you plan to have children? When and ideally how many kids would you like to have? What sort of childcare plans would you both hope to have? 

Being on the same page when it comes to the future of your family means that you will both feel that each stage of your marriage was planned, fully enjoyed and that you were prepared for each important family milestone in your lives. 

6. Marriage is Fun! 

And finally, don’t believe all those stereotypes about how romance dies and your lives become boring, cookie cutter and mundane. Every marriage is different. Your marriage will be different from your parent’s marriage and your siblings’ marriages and your friends’ marriages. Each marriage is a unique expression of the commitment and values of each couple. The fact that your marriage is tailor-made means that there is an extremely high chance that it will suit you.

So look forward to that first year of choosing your home together, buying your own furniture, learning to cook dinner and knowing that your special someone is waiting for you at home each and every day. Marriage is fun, full of surprises and a wonderful milestone in your life.